The format is based on an Order drawn up by Edward White Benson, later Archbishop of Canterbury, for Christmas Eve (24 December) 1880 in Truro, Cornwall. It has since been adapted and used by other churches all over the world. In the UK, the service has become the standard format for schools' Christmas carol services. Lessons and Carols most often occur in Anglican churches, and in some Roman Catholic.
The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is a format for a service of Christian worship celebrating the birth of Jesus which is traditionally followed at Christmas. The story of the fall of humanity, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus is told in nine short Bible readings, interspersed with the singing of Christmas carols and hymns. However numerous Christian churches have adopted this service, or a variation on this service, as part of their Christmas celebrations.
The best-known version is broadcast annually from King's College, Cambridge, on Christmas Eve. It features carols by the famous Choir of King's College, Cambridge. The first Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King's College, Cambridge, was held on Christmas Eve in 1918. It was conceived by Eric Milner-White, the Dean of the College, whose experience as an army chaplain had led him to believe that more imaginative worship was needed by the Church of England.
History of the Festival of Nine lessons and Carols